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Norval Morrisseau

(Copper Thunderbird)
1931 – 2007

Norval Morrisseau is one of the most original and important artists, native or otherwise that Canada has produced. Norval was the first to paint the ancient myths and legends of the eastern woodlands, stories previously passed down by the oral tradition. He spent his youth in remote isolation in northern Ontario, near Thunder Bay, where his artistic style developed without the usual influences of other artist’s imagery. As the soul originator of his “Woodland” style he has become an inspiration to three generations of artists.

Norval was brought up by his grandfather who introduced him to Ojibwa shamanism and told him the stories and legends passed down amongst the Ojibwa people. Norval began producing images to illustrate these stories. He would draw on the sandy beaches of Lake Nippigon with a stick and let the waves take the images away. He was told by some that it was taboo to relate these stories.

Norval Morrisseau is not a man that is easily dissuaded by ancient taboos. He developed his style, adding striking color to his paintings and eventually took them south to Toronto where they were meet with rave reviews. His work now hangs in all of the most prestigious museums in Canada and around the world. He has received an honorary degree from the Royal Academy of Arts and is a member of The Order Of Canada, the highest civilian honor in Canada. In 1989 he was the only Canadian Painter to be invited to participate in the “Magicians Of The Earth” exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris, France. He has had numerous solo shows across Canada and the US.

Norval Morrisseau was honoured with a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award during the NAAF Awards held at the Sony Centre in Toronto on March 22, 2008.
1995 Eagle Feather from the Assembly of First Nations, Ottawa
1980 Honorary Doctorate of Laws Degree McMaster University Hamilton Ontario
1978 Order of Canadan_morrisseau
1970 Appointed a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Art (RCAA)


“My art speaks and will continue to speak transcending barriers speak, of nationality, language, and other forces that may be divisive, fortifying the greatness of the spirit that has always been the foundation of the Ojibwa people.”

Norval Morrisseau


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